Upon hearing the word massage, many people immediately think of going to a spa and spending some quality “metime.” Sure, massage can help put your mind and body at ease. But its benefits extend beyond providing you that feeling of comfort and relaxation. The manipulation of soft tissues has several health benefits that you may not readily realize, and it is due to these effects that massage therapy must be incorporated into your routine. The following are five benefits of massage therapy and why you should consider it more than just a pampering treat.
1. Relieve stress.
Everyone would agree that after a massage therapy, you simply feel calm and relaxed. In fact, stress relief is one of the primary benefits of receiving a bodywork treatment. Contrary to popular belief, stress isn’t always bad. Stress is actually necessary to perform everyday functions and prevent accidents, such as hitting the brakes when another vehicle suddenly storms in front of you on the road. Too much stress, however, can be detrimental to your health. Several studies show that even a single session of massage therapy can immensely reduce stress. This is because massage helps reduce your heart rate, insulin levels and cortisol levels. By adding therapeutic massage in your routine, you can feel and look healthier.
2. Improve posture.
Today’s generation is notorious for bad posture. Desk workers are particularly at risk, as they need to sit for hours on end day after day. And only a small portion of the population takes the time and effort to practice measures that would permanently help them improve their posture. The most common manifestations include pain in the neck, back and glutes. Thankfully, this can be corrected by receiving massage. Regular massage therapy sessions can help reinforce the natural movements of different body parts, allowing your body to get back on track. It also helps reduce muscle soreness and promotes pain free posture.
3. Strengthen the immune system.
You might wonder, “How can something done on the outside help improve things on the inside?” Many might think of this simply as a marketing ploy by massage therapists and spa owners, but there are plenty of studies that back it up. For instance, one study showed that HIV patients who received a 45 minute massage therapy session 5 days a week for 1 month experienced an increase in production of cells which are considered the first line of defense in the immune system. Massage has also been shown to improve the cytotoxic capacity of the immune system, which is the activity level of the natural “killer” cells.
4. Improve circulation and lower blood pressure.
As mentioned, one session of therapeutic massage offers a wealth of health benefits. Just imagine what it can do if done on a regular basis. One of the best long term effects of massage therapy is improved blood circulation. This is a result of the pressure created during the massage, regardless of the technique used. This pressure causes blood to flow through the congested areas, which then allows new blood to flow in. This also flushes lactic acid from the muscles, the accumulation of which is associated with chronic muscle fatigue and soreness. Massage can also help patients with high blood pressure. Many think that this medical condition comes with several symptoms. In reality, though, it has none, earning it the nickname “the silent killer.” Massage therapy has been proven to be an effective way to lower blood pressure naturally. Receiving massage therapy on a regular basis decreases both diastolic and systolic blood pressure.
5. Recover from physical injury.
Rehabilitating a physical injury can be a tedious and painful process. Many find that a physical rehabilitation program is insufficient to restore the affected area to its preinjury state. Massage therapy plays a critical role in supplementing injury rehabilitation procedures. Relaxing the muscles and promoting circulation in the affected area allow blood to deliver much needed oxygen and other nutrients. This helps improve flexibility and range of motion. With the right injury massage therapy, the patient can expect the area to be healed at an accelerated rate. Studies indicate that there is an increasing number of patients who seek therapeutic massage to heal broken bones and burns as well. Massage can reduce stiffness and improve mobility, two problems often experienced when recovering from a broken bone. Burn patients also report less itching, discomfort and depression after receiving three months of massage therapy alongside their skin rehabilitation program.